A Matter of Blood (The Dog-Faced Gods #1) by Sarah Pinborough

matterofI’ve read quite a few of Sarah Pinborough’s books and what they all share, regardless of what type of story or genre they might seem to sit in, is a dark edge – and of course damned good writing – and A Matter of Blood is no exception.

Set in a potential near future A Matter of Blood brings to us a different and yet at the same time familiar, London.  The world has been hit by recession, crime is a major problem and most people, organisations and governments are in debt to the Bank, an incredibly wealthy organisation that has ‘big brother’ vibes.  The story starts with an introduction to Cass Jones, a detective inspector.  Cass is a complex character.  He has a past that haunts hims, a marriage on the rocks (due to his own philandering I might add), an on and off drug problem and a huge number of cases to solve including a serial killer and a drive-by shooting that killed two young school boys in the crossfire.  Now, added to this things get very complicated for Cass when his own brother shoots his family before turning the gun on himself and leaving Cass, given his shady past, as a potential suspect.

There is plenty going on here.  On the face of it this is a police procedure, murder mystery with a creepy serial killer planning his next murder but upon further reading this killer is more than at first appears and the mystery aspect of the story is much more complicated.  Everything in fact is inextricably linked and as Cass starts to dig into his own family history he begins to uncover secrets.

Cass is a great character.  I mean, he’s not really a nice guy in a lot of ways.  He ignores his brother’s repeated attempts to get in touch, he’s jaded, he’s corrupt, he cheats on his wife but in spite of that you end up getting sucked into his life and wanting him to pull through when things start to spiral out of control.  One thing about Cass is he is a good detective, he wants to get to the bottom of things and once he starts digging he doesn’t stop – and of course when the ghost of his dead brother starts visiting him it gives him a new incentive to work things out.  Pinborough manages to deliver a seriously flawed character and yet at the same time manages to keep you on his side.

In terms of criticisms.  Not much to mention.  The story wraps up well although it leaves plenty to explore in the next instalment.  This is a mix of police procedure and fantasy with a dash of horror, but, the fantasy elements are fairly subdued.  This isn’t a story that really delves into urban fantasy and it probably won’t shock hardcore horror fans but personally I liked the fantasy element of the story and thought it played really well into the whole murder mystery/serial killer theme.

This is a bleak setting and a chilling story with a couple of creepy characters sat at the very centre of the plot.  I never know quite what to expect from Sarah Pinborough, she seems to be an author who likes to push the boundaries and keep readers guessing and I look forward to picking up the second in the series to see where this story goes next.